Updated: Aug 13
Summer is quickly wrapping up, for students at least.
August is typically back to school month, for me in particular.
As a full- time college student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, this is typically my month to pack up and prepare for my 12-hour car ride back to campus. Traditionally, by August 15th, I’m completely moved into my college residence, awaiting the start of classes.
This year, plans are different.
I never thought this would be the start to my senior year...
COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of the world.
Beyond the effect it's had on us, it’s plain to see the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy, business owners, homeowners, etc. Since COVID-19 began, thousands of stores and businesses have shut down or filed for bankruptcy.
The record number of people who have filed for unemployment since the start of the pandemic is a clear indicator of the effect the virus has had on the world and the economy.
We always see the most impact when our pockets are involved.
The economy is not the only aspect of the world that’s been affected by the coronavirus. Students, specifically college students, have been on a roller coaster since they were forced off-campus in March.
The uncertainty of the coronavirus mixed with the impact it has had on the economy has made it very difficult for college students to navigate during this time.
As the number of coronavirus cases continued to increase across the country in February and March, schools closed indefinitely, forcing students off-campus. My university was one of the thousands of universities that closed when the number of cases begins to spike in March. As a result, classes were transitioned to virtual learning and campus closed for the future.
When the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic in March, I never expected we would still be in the midst with cases continuing to increase across the world. The gradual spread of COVID-19 across the world for the second time, similar to March when the pandemic begins, has lead many to suspect a second outbreak is quickly approaching.
Educational systems have had a difficult time planning an academic semester year that will be safe for students and faculty because of the unknowns associated with the future and the virus.
In early June, when the United States began to experience a brief decline in new cases and coronavirus related deaths, many students were optimistic about the future. Universities begin to propose academic plans for the upcoming academic year, all including strict social distancing guidelines.
Universities choose between these two options for the upcoming year.
Students were given the option to between distance learning or in-person instruction.
The university made the decision between virtual or distance learning.
My university is one university that intends to open campus for the fall with strict social distancing guidelines in place, including the requirement of masks on campus and the restrictions of large crowds or gatherings.
Early into the summer, students were sent a survey to complete regarding which option they prefer for the upcoming semester. After a diligent review of all the surveys, North Carolina A&T elected to give students the option to choose because the results were so spilt.
After deep thought, I choose virtual learning because it's the safest option for me.
Although it would be ideal to experience my senior year on campus with my friends, getting the highest level of instruction, I choose online classes for health and safety reasons. I genuinely did not believe being on campus for in-person learning would be safe.
As a senior, most of the classes I need in order to graduate on time are not offered online. By making the choice to take virtual classes this semester, my graduation date was inturn pushed back. After three and a half years on the Dean’s List, not graduating on time as I planned is a big blow for me. This tough situation I faced is one college students are facing all across the country.
While everyone is being impacted in different ways, to different instincts by this virus, the effect on college students has been hard and maybe overlooked.
Here are 6 ways college students are being affected by the coronavirus.
The coronavirus first recked havoc on the United States in early March, which caused most schools to close down. Because there were so many unknowns about the virus, the presumption was that classes would start back up later in the year.
This left graduating seniors and their families with some hope that the opportunity to walk across the stage was still possible. After the coronavirus spread globally causing a pandemic, all schools permanently closed for the academic year, canceling any hope of 2020 graduates walking the stage. Not only were most seniors not able to walk the stage, but high school seniors also missed out on the biggest event of high school, prom.
Tuition has been a hot topic for students and parents across the country. Nearly all universities have chosen virtual learning as the primary option, with some choosing to offer both or a split option. Here's the problem: In most cases, students are paying for in-person tuition for virtual classes.
Rent has been another big issue for college students. Students who choose to live off-campus, without a housing contract, in most instances have to pay rent. Paying rent has been a problem for students.
Some students do not have the money to pay rent or are on the verge of eviction because their job has been closed down for an extended period of time during the pandemic. There are students who have not been working or received income or benefits since the first stimulus check.
On the other hand, there are students who made the decision to return home to be with family once the outbreak began. Those students have been paying for a place that they have not been staying in.
Fall 2020 Online
Fall 2020 classes will be held virtually for most students. Virtual classes are not the ideal option for most students for two reasons. Resources and learning abilities.
In order to perform proficiently for an online class, a laptop or some form of technology is needed along with a stable internet connection. Every student does not have access to or have the means to acquire the materials needed for distance learning. How will a student perform, who lives in a home with no internet, and lacks access to an open library because of the pandemic?
Virtual learning does not cater to every student’s learning ability. Everybody learns and retains information differently. Some students learn with the hands-on approach, while other students are visual learners. Virtual learning is not the ideal option is learning styles.
Due to COVID-19 which caused a global shutdown, a large number of internships scheduled for the spring 2020 and fall 2020 semesters were canceled or made remote for safety reasons. Students with earned paid internships were counting on this internship, especially after the global pandemic caused their job to close. Beyond the financial restraint, the experience for students would've been priceless.
Internships are not the only experience students missed out on because of the coronavirus. Study aboard trips were also canceled. Due to the gradual spread of COVID-19 across the world, nearly all countries put border control in place, restricting people from entering the country. This indefinitely canceled all study abroad trips for the near future.
University Of Maryland
The University of Maryland originally rolled out academic plans for the academic year, with students set to return to campus in August for in-person classes After a spike in new cases, Maryland and Prince George's county, the University of Maryland made the decision to switch all classes to virtual learning less than three weeks before they were set to start.
On August 10th, the school's president made the official announcement that all classes will be held virtually until September 14th due to the 5.4 positivity rate, in the county where the University of Maryland is located.
This semester brings so much uncertainty because of the pandemic.
The steady increase in the amount of new cases has students anxiously wondering how long the semester will last before they're sent home. It is already evident how quickly universities will change academic plans, as shown in the instance of the University of Maryland. While we're all being affected in recent ways by the coronavirus and recent world events, do not overlook how this virus could be affecting those close to you.
Use this time to reach out to those around you, spread love, send prayers, and stay safe.
University of Maryland to start fall classes online, asks students to stay inside, citing coronavirus risks
'I can't afford tuition': College students face financial strains, health concerns from pandemic ahead of fall semester